Reform Jersey Proposes Alternative Government Plan
Members of Reform Jersey’s parliamentary party have lodged a series of amendments to the upcoming Government Plan proposition, due to be debated in the States Assembly on 12th December.
Party Leader, Deputy Sam Mézec, said - “The Government Plan which has been presented by the Better Way Conservative Coalition fails to provide the leadership and vision that Islanders need at this time. The plan itself contains almost nothing in the way of new policies or ideas to improve life for people in Jersey. Islanders are currently facing a housing crisis which poses an existential risk to Jersey’s future, teachers are striking and waiting lists for hospital treatments continue to rise. This plan should have been the moment for the government to show us how it intends to fix these things, but instead they have just proposed more of the same.”
“Reform Jersey is stepping in to fill this vacuum in leadership. Our members have been working hard in recent months to prepare a package of measures aimed at delivering on the manifesto commitments we made in our ‘New Deal for Jersey’ last year, as well as responding to the challenges that have arisen since.”
“I am extremely pleased that every spending commitment we are proposing has been covered either through better use of existing funds or through the clear tax reforms that we have developed with the objective advice and data modelling provided by the Treasury Department. As a party, we believe in fiscal prudence and are determined to demonstrate that we would be more effective custodians of taxpayers’ money than successive conservative governments have been.”
Jersey’s children and their families have faced unprecedented disruption throughout this year as teachers have taken industrial action as part of their campaign to reverse a decade of real terms pay cuts. Reform Jersey believes that to put children first, we must support our teaching profession.
Deputy Catherine Curtis is proposing an extra £2m is provided to the Children, Young People, Education and Skills Department budget to make an improved pay offer for teachers, so they can have faith that their concerns have been addressed and can end the industrial dispute which has been allowed to go on for too long by the States Employment Board.
Healthcare and Social Security
Reform Jersey believes in a health service that is free at the point of need and provides timely and high-quality care for all. Last year, we were proud to have defeated the government’s opposition to our amendment to abolish the fee for children to see a GP. This came into effect in July this year and has made a huge difference to children and their families when they need this service.
Deputy Carina Alves is proposing extending this scheme to cover full-time students, irrespective of their age.
Deputy Raluca Kovacs is proposing extending the medical hosiery dressings scheme and expanding it to include free wound dressings. This will build on the excellent work already done by Family Nursing Home Care to support Islanders to recover more quickly and avoid further health complications arising.
Deputy Lyndsay Feltham is proposing introducing a scheme to provide financial support for carers of children with complex health needs. This scheme will start out as a pilot, before legislation is brought forward next year to make it permanent.
Jersey is suffering from a severe housing crisis which poses a huge threat to our future prosperity. As hundreds of locally qualified Islanders are leaving, citing the cost of housing as a major factor in their decision, the government’s failure to take any meaningful action to reverse this is unacceptable.
Deputy Sam Mézec is proposing directing revenue raised from the Stamp Duty surcharge on investment properties to the ‘First Step’ scheme to provide support for first-time-buyers. This will add £2.3m a year extra to help more aspiring homeowners.
He is also proposing eliminating tax exemptions for buy-to-let investors on their mortgage interest payments. Mortgage Interest Relief for owner-occupiers is being phased out by the government, yet they have no plans to remove this tax benefit for those who buy homes as an investment.
Deputy Tom Coles is proposing a new scheme is established to incentivise “right-sizing”, so Islanders who wish to move to a smaller home to free up a larger home for a growing family to move into, are supported and incentivised.
Deputy Carina Alves is proposing limiting the “rent-a-room” tax allowance solely to those who have mortgages, ensuring that this tax break does not disproportionately benefit those who least need it.
Reform Jersey believes that our response to climate emergency ought to be based on a ‘just transition’, where we seek to improve the quality of life for all and eliminate inequality as we reduce our carbon emissions.
Following the successful implementation of the popular Avanchi18 bus pass, providing unlimited bus travel for young people, Deputy Rob Ward is proposing extending this to Islanders aged 21 and under.
He is also proposing removing funding from the inequitable scheme which sees a large public subsidy for affluent Islanders to purchase electric vehicles, and instead allocating it to a new bus subsidy to drastically reduce the cost of annual passes for Islanders. These new passes will cost just £200, instead of the current £495. By investing in our public transport network, we will alleviate congestion and pollution on our roads and free up our public car parks for those who need to drive.
Reform Jersey has long campaigned for progressive taxation to prevent the need for ever increasing stealth charges on working people and small businesses.
Deputy Sam Mézec is proposing a series of reforms which would protect low-income Islanders, Middle Jersey and small hospitality businesses which are struggling more than ever.
- Scrapping the upper earnings caps on employer’s Social Security Contributions and the Long Term Care Tax. This would raise 9m and 8.5m respectively.
- Putting all Islanders on one Income Tax calculation system, allowing all taxpayers to claim tax allowances, and reducing the marginal rate from 26% to 25%. This will see the overwhelming majority of Islander become better off.
- Preventing consideration of introducing any new Waste Disposal Tax that seeks to disproportionately penalise low earning households and small hospitality businesses.
Deputy Catherine Curtis is proposing limiting the proposed RegTech tax deduction only to businesses who use local technology providers, ensuring we get maximum economic benefit from this incentive.
Finally, Deputy Tom Coles is proposing protecting Islanders access to their pension funds, which the government has proposed restricting, without any notice or communication with those who may be affected by this. This will assist Islanders who had made career plans or begun the process of purchasing a home, who may have been relying on their pension fund to invest in their own future.
The full reports and all the details for each amendment can be read in full on the States Assembly website at - www.statesassembly.gov.je